For over 30 years, research has shown that men can and do sustain intimate partner violence (IPV) from their female partners. This is the first large-scale, nationally-based, quantitative study to systematically detail the helpseeking experiences of men who have sustained IPV from their female partners. The sample is composed of 302 men who were recruited from resources specializing in men’s issues. Results indicate that men who seek help for IPV victimization have the most positive experiences in seeking help from family/friends, and mental health and medical providers. They have the least positive experiences with members of the DV service system. Cumulative positive helpseeking experiences were associated with lower levels of abusing alcohol; cumulative negative experiences were associated with higher rates of exceeding a clinical cut-off for post-traumatic stress disorder. Results are discussed in terms of implications for the social service sector and for future research.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Addis, M. E., & Mahalik, J. R. (2003). Men, masculinity, and the contexts of help seeking. American Psychologist, 58(1), 5–14.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington: Author.
Andrykowski, M. A., Cordova, M. J., Studts, J. L., & Miller, T. W. (1998). Posttraumatic stress disorder after treatment for breast cancer: prevalence of diagnosis and use of the PTSD Checklist—Civilian Version (PCL–C) as a screening instrument. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 586–590.
Apsler, R., Cummins, M. R., & Carl, S. (2003). Perceptions of the police by female victims of domestic partner violence. Violence Against Women, 9(11), 1318–1335.
Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual couples: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 651–680.
Arndt, N. Y. (1982). Domestic violence: an investigation of the psychological aspects of the battered woman. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association.
Astin, B., Lawrence, K. J., & Foy, D. W. (1993). Posttraumatic stress disorder among battered women: Risk and resiliency factors. Violence and Victims, 8, 17–28.
Beaulaurier, R., Seff, L., Newman, F., & Dunlop, B. (2007). External barriers to help seeking for older women who experience intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22(8), 747–755.
Blanchard, E. B., Jones-Alexander, J. B., Buckley, T. C., & Forneris, C. A. (1996). Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist (PCL). Behavior Research and Therapy, 34, 669–673.
Bowker, L. H., & Maurer, L. (1985). The importance of sheltering in the lives of battered women. Response to the Victimization of Women & Children, 8(1), 2–8.
Buzawa, E. S., & Austin, T. (1993). Determining police response to domestic violence victims: the role of victim preference. American Behavioral Scientist, 36(5), 610–623.
Cascardi, M., O’Leary, K. D., Lawrence, E. E., & Schlee, K. A. (1995). Characteristics of women physically abused by their spouses and who seek treatment regarding marital conflict. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 616–623.
Catalano, S. (2007). Intimate partner violence in the United States [Electronic Version]. Retrieved June 29, 2009 from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/intimate/ipv.htm.
Centers for Disease Control. (2006). Understanding Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved June 28, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/IPV-FactSheet.pdf
Cook, P. W. (2009). Abused men: The hidden side of domestic violence (2nd ed.). Westport: Praeger.
Derevensky, J. L., & Deschamps, L. (1997). Young adults from divorced and intact families: perceptions about preferred custodial arrangements. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 27(1), 105–122.
Dobash, R. E., & Dobash, R. P. (1984). The nature and antecedents of violent events. British Journal of Criminology, 24, 269–288.
Donnelly, D. A., Cook, K. J., & Wilson, L. (1999). Provision and exclusion: the dual face of services to battered women in three Deep South states. Violence Against Women, 5(7), 710–741.
Ferraro, K. J., & Johnson, J. M. (1983). How women experience battering: the process of victimization. Social Problems, 30, 325–338.
Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G. T., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survery of adult men and women: prevalence, characteristics and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 19–28.
First, M. B., Gibbon, M., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. (1996). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders, research version, patient edition with psychotic screen (SCID-I/P W/PSY SCREEN). New York: Biometrics Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Galdas, P. M., Cheater, F., & Marshall, P. (2005). Men and health help-seeking behaviour: literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49(6), 616–622.
Gelles, R. J. (1974). The violent home: A study of physical aggression between husbands and wives. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Gleason, W. J. (1993). Mental disorders in battered women: an empirical study. Violence and Victims, 8, 53–68.
Hines, D. A. (2007). Post-Traumatic stress symptoms among men who sustain partner violence: a multi-national study of university students. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 8, 225–239.
Hines, D. A., Brown, J., & Dunning, E. (2007). Characteristics of callers to the domestic abuse helpline for men. Journal of Family Violence, 22(2), 63–72.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010a). A closer look at men who sustain intimate terrorism by women. Partner Abuse, 3(1), 286–313.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010b). Intimate terrorism by women towards men: does it exist? Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 2(3), 36–56.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2011a). The reported availability of U.S. domestic violence services to victims who vary by age, sexual orientation, and gender. Partner Abuse, 2(1), 3–28.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2011b). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in men who sustain intimate partner violence: A study of helpseeking and community samples. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 12(2), 112–127.
Hines, D. A., Douglas, E. M., & Mahmood, S. (2010). The effects of survey administration on disclosure rates to sensitive items among a sample of men: a comparison of an internet panel sample with a RDD telephone sample. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1327–1335.
Hines, D. A., & Malley-Morrison, K. (2001). Psychological effects of partner abuse against men: a neglected research area. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 2, 75–85.
Jacobsen, L. K., Southwick, S. M., & Kosten, T. R. (2001). Substance use disorders in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the literature. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(8), 1184–1190.
Kilpatrick, D. G., Acierno, R., Resnick, H. S., Saunders, B. E., & Best, C. L. (1997). A 2-year longitudinal analysis of the relationships between violent assault and substance use in women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 834–847.
Lye, D. N., & Biblarz, T. J. (1993). The effects of attitudes toward family life and gender roles on marital satisfaction. Journal of Family Issues, 14(2), 157–188.
Marshall, L. L. (1992). The severity of violence against men scales. Journal of Family Violence, 7, 189–203.
McClennen, J. C., Summers, A. B., & Vaughan, C. (2002). Gay men’s domestic violence: dynamics, help-seeking behaviors, and correlates. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 14(1), 23–49.
McNamara, J. R., Ertl, M. A., Marsh, S., & Walker, S. (1997). Short-term response to counseling and case management intervention in a domestic violence shelter. Psychological Reports, 81(3, Pt 2), 1243–1251.
McNamara, J. R., Tamanini, K., & Pelletier-Walker, S. (2008). The impact of short-term counseling at a domestic violence shelter. Research on Social Work Practice, 18(2), 132–136.
Miller, J., & White, N. A. (2003). Gender and adolescent relationship violence: a contextual examination. Criminology, 41, 1207–1248.
Molina, O., Lawrence, S. A., Azhar-Miller, A., & Rivera, M. (2009). Divorcing abused latina immigrant women’s experiences with domestic violence support groups. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(7), 459–471.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2003). Costs of intimate partner violence: against women in the united states. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Norton, I. M., & Schauer, J. (1997). A hospital-based domestic violence group. Psychiatric Services, 48(9), 1186–1190.
Renzetti, C. M. (1989). Building a second closet: third party responses to victims of lesbian partner abuse. Family Relations, 38(2), 157–163.
Robins, L. N., Helzer, J., Cottler, L., & Goldring, E. (1988). NIMH diagnostic interview schedule, vol. 3. St. Louis: Washington University Press.
Ruggiero, K. J., DelBen, K., Scotti, J. R., & Rabalais, A. E. (2003). Psychometric properties of the PTSD Checklist–Civilian Version. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 495–502.
Ruggiero, K. J., Smith, D. W., Hanson, R. F., Resnick, H. S., Saunders, B. E., Kilpatrick, D. G., et al. (2004). Is disclosure of childhood rape associated with mental health outcome? Results from the national women’s study. Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, 9(1), 62–77.
Saunders, D. G. (1994). Post-traumatic stress symptom profiles of battered women: a comparison of survivors in two settings. Violence and Victims, 9, 31–44.
Schatzow, E., & Herman, J. L. (1989). Breaking secrecy. Adult survivors disclose to their families. the psychiatric clinics of North America, 12(2), 337–349.
Simons, J. S., Gaher, R. M., Jacobs, G. A., Meyer, D., & Johnson-Jimenez, E. (2005). Associations between alcohol use and PTSD symptoms among American red cross disaster relief workers responding to the 9/11/2001 attacks. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 31, 385–304.
Stewart, S. H. (1996). Alcohol abuse in individuals exposed to trauma: a critical review. Psychological Bulletin, 120(1), 83–112.
Stewart, S. H., Pihl, R. O., Conrod, P. J., & Dongier, M. (1998). Functional associations among trauma, PTSD, and substance-related disorders. Addictive Behaviors, 23(6), 797–812.
Straus, M. A. (1995). Trends in cultural norms and rates of partner violence: an update to 1992. In S. Stith & M. A. Straus (Eds.), Understanding partner violence: Prevalence, causes, consequences, and solutions (pp. 30–33). Minneapolis: National Council on Family Relations.
Straus, M. A. (2004a). Cross-cultural reliability and validity of the revised conflict tactics scales: a study of university student dating couples in 17 nations. Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of Comparative Social Science, 38(4), 407–432.
Straus, M. A. (2004b). Women’s violence toward men is a serious social problem. In D. R. Loseke, R. J. Gelles, & M. M. Cavanaugh (Eds.), Current controversies on family violence (2nd ed., pp. 55–77). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (1988). How violent are American families?: Estimates from the National Family Violence Resurvey and other studies. In G. T. Hotaling & D. Finkelhor (Eds.), Family abuse and its consequences: New directions in research (pp. 14–36). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Straus, M. A., & Mouradian, V. E. (1999). Preliminary psychometric data for the personal and relationships profile (PRP): A multi-scale tool for clinical screening and research on partner violence. Unpublished paper. University of New Hampshire.
Sweeney, K. (2007). Restrictions of race, class, and gender norms on ability to attain preferred gender roles. Conference Papers—American Sociological Association, 1.
Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Retrieved September 9, 2003, from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nih/victdocs.htm#2000.
Walker, L. E. A., & Browne, A. (1985). Gender and victimization by intimates. Journal of Personality, 53(2), 179.
Weathers, F. W., Litz, B. T., Herman, D. S., Huska, J. A., & Keane, T. M. (1993). The PTSD Checklist (PCL): Reliability, validity, and diagnostic utility. Paper presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Wonderlich, S. A., Wilsnack, R. W., Wilsnack, S. C., & Harris, T. R. (1996). Childhood sexual abuse and bulimic behavior in a nationally representative sample., American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 86, pp. 1082–1086): American Public Health Assn.
World Health Organization. (2005). Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women. Geneva: World Health Organization.
The project described was supported by Grant Number 5R21MH074590 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMH. Special thanks goes to Dr. Murray A. Straus for his continued guidance, support, and consultation on this project.
About this article
Cite this article
Douglas, E.M., Hines, D.A. The Helpseeking Experiences of Men Who Sustain Intimate Partner Violence: An Overlooked Population and Implications for Practice. J Fam Viol 26, 473–485 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-011-9382-4
- Intimate partner violence
- Domestic violence services
- Male victims